<
>

Australia bank on Bangalore factor

India's batting prowess and their spin strength make them favourites in the four-Test series against Australia, but the visitors will like the fact that the venue for the opener is the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, a ground that has brought Australia plenty of success and the home team lots of disappointments. Australia have an unblemished record here, winning their last two Tests - in 1998 and 2004 - and drawing the first. India, on the other hand, haven't won here in more than ten years. In their last six Tests, they've lost four and drawn two. India's last win in Bangalore was 13 years back, in October 1995, when they beat New Zealand by eight wickets. Among the current Indian players, only Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble have experienced a Test win in Bangalore. (Click here for all results in Bangalore.)

Among all home venues which have hosted at least ten Tests, Bangalore is easily the most unfriendly for India, and it's the only ground where they've lost more games than they've won. Out of the four venues for this series, too, the Chinnaswamy has the poorest record for the home team: India's win-loss in Mohali is 2 (four wins, two losses), it's 1.67 in Delhi and 1 in Nagpur (2 wins and losses).

India's famed batting line-up has done well at most home grounds, but in Bangalore the record is decidedly patchy. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have got the runs, but the others have been below par. Rahul Dravid, the home boy, and VVS Laxman have been particularly disappointing. Dravid has only scored 226 runs in 11 innings, with one half-century. In fact, Anil Kumble has done better with the bat here than Laxman and Dravid, averaging 27.87 in eight Tests.

The two spinners haven't found Bangalore to their liking either: Kumble averages 30.63 in his home town, much higher than his average of 24.27 in India, while Harbhajan Singh's Bangalore average is 36.47, more than ten higher than his overall bowling average in India of 26.26.

Over the last ten years, fast bowlers have done reasonably well here, with Michael Kasprowicz, Ishant Sharma and Yasir Arafat taking five-fors. Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie were outstanding in their only match here, returning combined figures of 11 for 190 in 2004. Spinners have taken more wickets, but at a higher average. The only ten-wicket haul in a match belongs to Harbhajan, but he conceded 224 runs in the process, against Australia in 2004.

With the pitch likely to offer uneven bounce and aid spin late, batting first is definitely to way to go here. As the table below illustrates, the average runs per wicket comes down quite substantially over the four innings.